The Ministry of the Public Service is moving with alacrity to roll out the Flexible Work Arrangement Policy in the Barbados Public Service.
Director of Human Resource Policy and Staffing Directorate, Kim Belle, said Flexible Work Arrangements Guidelines had been developed and approved, and the document was currently being circulated.
“The comprehensive guidelines document, which is for managers, supervisors and employees, outlines everything public officers should know about the flexible work arrangements, and the necessary templates are attached.
“An extensive presentation on the new arrangements was recently made to the ‘Committee of Permanent Secretaries and Related Grades’, and the document is now being shared with public officers, so they can determine their preferred option and begin making their requests. Public officers have welcomed the introduction of the flexible work arrangements and are beginning to engage their supervisors in relation to their proposed flexible work arrangement,” Ms. Belle stated.
The four flexible work arrangement options available to public officers are: a compressed week, flexi-time, staggered hours and telecommuting.
The Director pointed out that each request for the flexible work arrangement would be considered on its own merit and be based on the facts of the particular case, including performance and provision of work plans. If the application is not accepted, she explained, employees will be advised that the request cannot be accommodated and the operational reasons will be shared.
“In some instances, the request can be denied, with alternative proposed arrangements suggested. This arrangement would have to be signed off on by the employee and the Head of Department or Permanent Secretary,” she pointed out.
Ms. Belle noted that the flexible work arrangement would be reviewed at intervals to ensure it was continuing to meet the needs of the individual and the department.
“Any non-compliance with the Flexible Work Arrangement Policy may result in its modification or termination,” she stated.
The Director said not all positions in the public service lent themselves to flexible work, since some functions could not be performed remotely. Therefore, she stressed, the flexible arrangement must take into account the work of the ministry or department.
Flexible work arrangements are expected to result in a better work-life balance for public officers and temporary employees, as well as benefit ministries and departments across the public service.
Ms. Belle gave an outline of each arrangement:
Compressed week – an employee works his usual number of full-time hours in fewer days by working longer blocks of time per day. The suitable arrangement must include health, safety and welfare considerations.
Flexi-time – allows management and an employee to agree, within certain limits, for example, when to begin and end the workday and where the work period can vary from day-to-day.
Staggered hours – there are different start and end times for different groups of employees, but they must complete a period of work that is equal to a standard workday, as agreed by the Head of the Department.
Telecommuting – an employee performing specific work-related duties from home or another remote location for a specified period. The officer will be required to work from office at least one day per week, unless there are extraordinary circumstances which will prevent this from occurring.